“Most women use more brains picking a horse in the third at Belmont than they do picking a husband.” – Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall), How to Marry a Millionaire
There’s a lot of old school movies that I love, but How to Marry a Millionaire is easily in my top three. There’s something about the writing, the cast (Monroe! Grable!), the clothes, and most of all: Lauren Bacall. As much as I love a good classic film noir, there was something about Bacall in a comedy that really hit all the right notes–between her dry delivery and superb timing, there’s a lot of reasons I always come back to this movie as one of my favorites.
In one of the ways to better marry (Eh? EEEH? Get it?) the makeup and vintage portion of this blog together, I’ve decided to try and make it a monthly challenge going into 2018 to do a makeup look similar to that of a particular starlet. I’ll do my best to also recreate the hair, but given that mine is feral, I’m not going to get worked up over it. Starting off, this series, I’m going to go off this movie to start and go with my favorite lady, Lauren Bacall.
Bacall, prior to being a leading lady was a model. She had gotten her start in 1944 with her future husband, Humphrey Bogart, in To Have and Have Not. From there, she worked on several other films with him (primarily in the film noir genre) before How to Marry a Millionaire in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. The movie itself is about three bachelorettes in New York attempting to find millionaires to marry before stumbling on love with men they least expected.
Though Bacall’s makeup is not particularly noteworthy in the movie, I’ve found an ad for her makeup I particularly like. This ad emphasizes a lot of blush–which is something I struggle with in terms of placement and amount (and exactly why I got for sheerer formulas). As this is something I want to get better at, this is why I focused on this particular one for a recreation look.
Looking at the picture, there’s some evident things right off the bat: this was likely something done in the very late 1940’s, early 1950’s. The eyes are generally clean (albeit, hooded) with a small, winged liner. It was all done in black. Blush was strong and on the outside of the apples of the cheek, but laid on thick. The lips were stereotypical red, but with a hint of shine.
The skin was very clean; Bacall had defined cheekbones so there wouldn’t be as much need for contouring and there was likely none of that present in this look for this advertisement. If I squint, I can pick up on maybe a very slight amount on her nose, but that’s only if I squint. Another observation is that her brows were very thick with a defined arch. This is definitely something that is within my skill set, but would force me to be cognizant of application, which is the name of the game here.
I always start with a normal skincare routine, but after having let it settle, I always go to the priming steps. In this particular case, I wound up using MUFE Step 1 Primer in Redness Reduction, BITE Beauty Agave Lip Mask, and the Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eye Primer. These products lay the foundation for a smooth, vibrant canvas.
Once they were set, I started with the eyes. The MUFE Artist Shadow in M500 as a base (this has since been discontinued, but has a sister shade in M500 in the new Artist Color Shadow in M500 which is slightly more yellow-undertoned.) After extending that up to the brow bone, I used MAC Omega in the crease. After that, a bit of MAC Nylon in the tearducts and inner eye to make it appear larger. (A trick Marilyn Monroe used to use!) From there, tightlined with the Marc Jacobs gel pencil eyeliner and the Physician’s Formula liquid eyeliner to get the smaller cat eye shape.
Once the eyes were complete, I moved onto my face. I started with the YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch for a color corrector for my under-eyes. After that was done, I used about 3 pumps of the MUFE Water Blend (my beloved) to even out my skin tone. From there, a healthy amount of MAC Blushbaby for a natural looking blush with a bit of the MUFE Artist Face Shadow in S112 for sculpting under my cheeks to give the appearance of a more chiseled cheekbone.
The finishing touches were Benefit Roller Lash in dark brown (used in upper and lower lashes). Then, the last little touch: BITE Beauty’s lip pencil in 076 to outline the lips and MAC Chili on the lips, with a patting of MAC Nylon in the center to make it look more “glossy.”
And below is the outcome from several angles:
And that concludes this month’s attempt. Each month will be a different Hollywood starlet, and I haven’t picked February’s, but I’ll be working on something I can replicate. Let me know if you have any ideas or thoughts.
Bette Midler is one of those actresses that can do it all: she can sing, she can dance, she can act. She can even executive produce! In the same way, MAC Omega is one of those eyeshadows that is a triple threat.
MAC Omega has been a staple in my collection for a while now, and I think it’s definitely worth showing off how great it is and the ways it can be used (assuming your coloring lends itself to using it in such a way; I acknowledge this post is not likely to work for darker skintones. Depending on your skintone and hair color, ones to possibly look at would include MAC Swiss Chocolate, Soft Brown, Soba, Saddle, or Wedge. Maybe even Carbon for eyebrows.)
Here are the ways in which I use this:
Of all the eyeshadow colors I have, this is my favorite. It’s subtle, and like a lot of MAC eyeshadows, requires some building to really get the color to pack a punch. Personally, I prefer my eyeshadows this way; it means less error when applying (more pigmentation means more room for error; issues with fallout, overdoing a color, or staining the skin when trying to remove excess.)
In this current makeup climate, YASS QUEEN BUTTERY PIGMENTATION FROM THE GAWDS HUNTY kind of attitude and formula reigns, but I’m happy that MAC has kept their eyeshadows as they have. They’re tried and true, and you can find a *ton* of swatches for almost any shade across many skintones.
It’s by sheer luck that my hair color is almost identical to Omega. Omega is the perfect amount of ashy that works for those of us on the taupe/ash blonde/very light brown spectrum. I find that it works both as a subtle powder, or can be built up to a POW! in your face, Liz Taylor-inspired brow.
Again: this is another one of those situations where sheer luck by having the “right” (as in workable) skin tone comes into play that this is something I can even consider using as contour. That being said, the ultimate goal of contour is to replicate a “shadow” from cheekbones or make your chin look more pointed.
MAC Omega is the one eyeshadow shade they can pry out of my tiny, cold, dead hands. It’s such an excellent multitasker that I can’t imagine parting with it now or in the future.
What about you; do you have any product like this in your collection?
For those unaware about Project Pan, it’s a challenge to use up products within your collection; the “pan” being the silver part that shows once the product has been used up. In 2017, I half-heartedly started a Project Pan that I barely indulged in; though, I did wind up panning the Burberry Lip Velvet.
This year, now that I have this space, I intend to take it a little more seriously. I have picked several products of different types, and her are the products I would like to do my best to finish off:
Lipstick: MAC Brave
Lipstick: Besame Red Velvet
Eyeshadow: MAC Omega
I chose these products for several reasons; partially, I wanted to follow through from last year. Some I would like to be able to use up and get out of my collection so I can try something new, but it isn’t something that I dislike enough to throw away. In other cases, I actually really enjoy it, but have struggled to finish products in full and want that satisfaction. Or, it’s an attempt to pare down items in my collection to something more manageable.
I’m someone that struggles with using up products; while some people work through a lipstick in a matter of months, I’ve had MAC Brave for almost two years now. As I don’t have a particularly large collection, this helps with using the products I have.
Ideally, my goal is to check in quarterly, and the last update to come at the end of 2018 with discussions on successes and failures and overall thoughts when completed. I will show progress through measuring (when able) and pictures of use for comparison with the date marked.
For now, I intend to focus on those three products. However, if in the process that either the product becomes unusable or can’t be finished, I will substitute something in its place.
In addition to this Project Pan, I’ll also be doing a Reverse Rouge Challenge with a few other ladies that blog. For as long as VIB Rouge at Sephora has been around, I’ve hit it every year. VIB Rouge is a status of buyer at Sephora that spends over $1000 per year. The perks are OK; free make-overs (so long as you schedule in advance), free 2-day shipping (though, as of 1/1/18, this changed to 3-day without any warning…), and early access to products.
This is something that I have decided I will not actively pursue obtaining again, but if it happens, it happens. This year will likely be largely repurchases and for a lot of the products that I do use and like, I can really only get them through Sephora (e.g. Make Up For Ever, Kat Von D, etc.)
The Reverse Rouge Challenge, on the other hand, will be using up at least $1000 worth of products at the end of the year. This includes makeup, skincare, hair care, nails, and other tools that you may use. Destashes also count towards the total. Again, much like Project Pan, I will intend to be updating this quarterly (though, it will likely get its own post going forward instead of being amalgamated with Project Pan.)
Those are the current ground rules I will be working off of this year for this Project Pan and the Reverse Rouge Challenge. Are you planning on doing a Project Pan or Reverse Rouge Challenger this year? If so, what are the products you’re planning on using up?
‘Tis the season for all the good beauty and pinup bloggers to give their riff on their resolutions going into 2018, and particularly inspired by Renee at Bad Outfit Great Lipstick, and so too, I throw my hat into the ring.
This year, one of my bigger goals is to get my finances in order. I have a car loan, student loans, and there’s plenty of things I know I can be doing to get my ducks in a row to be better prepared for any future emergencies, etc. Being in good financial health is one of the keys to being healthy, especially in America (and for those of us with high-deductible health plans!)
With that in mind, there are some key ways I intend to strategize to handle my expenditures and curb impulse spending in the next year:
1. For any new release, waiting at least 30 days and at least 2 reviews from “trusted” folks.
As far as beauty goes, there are few things that get me excited like a good new foundation launch or, sometimes, the occasional lipstick launch with colors that haven’t been heavily produced (still waiting on my retro, orange-based coral of my dreams…) And as much as I love my MUFE Water Blend, I also like trying other stuff and I fall prey to the mentality of “B-b-b-but what if I find something I love more!”
There have been times I have jumped the gun and bought something sight unseen before having the ability to try it. Living in Louisville (as opposed to my former home in the Chicago suburbs) means I will not get access to try all the beauty things my heart desires. With that being said, because I may not get access to try new products firsthand, I am forcing myself to wait at least 30 days after the initial launch and require at least 2 reviews from trusted folks.
While I generally don’t follow a lot of YouTube beauty folks, I do have a few on Instagram or other blogs that I follow. I find their reviews tend to be more comprehensive, tried for a longer period of time (as opposed to a single day), and test for more variation in formula. Additionally, I find their photography is less likely to be photoshopped or influenced by heavy lighting.
If after both of these situations have been met and I am still interested, ideally, I would like to be able to get a sample from Sephora or try out at Ulta before buying. And from there, if all is good–the purchase is allowed.
2. A set amount for true vintage clothes; $200.
I have a confession, my friends. It is not something I am proud of, but I have to cop to and get this off my chest. I–am terrified to wear my true vintage clothing. There’s several reasons for this: the pieces that I do have, I actually really love. They fit well, they’re cute, but–if I ever tear or wear them to excess, I will not be able to replace it.
And that’s ri-goddamn-diculous of me. That’s the entire point of clothes! To wear them!
So, for this year, I am putting a strong cap on my true vintage clothing spenditures. I have to get over this, and to do it, I’m going to force myself to actually wear them and get over that. And if I don’t, I have at least one or two people I know that will sell the pieces on my behalf. If I do wind-up selling, I’ll allow the amount it sold for to roll over and be added to the $200.
3. Try and explore more looks with makeup and being more adventurous
I am confident in my ability to do a cat eye (after many years of practice), I can apply eyeshadow relatively comfortably–but I don’t really do a lot of variation beyond that. One of the things I would like to do this upcoming year is do a monthly vintage look recreation–it will get me out of a rut and try and force my hand at learning new styles with my products I already have.
It’ll also tie my love of vintage looks with makeup and keep things a little more cohesive around these parts.
4. Quit the yo-yo weight bullshit.
For those unaware, I am 5’0″. When you are smaller, you tend to reflect weight easier. A pound difference gets easily reflected in my face, and also: on my hips. A pound makes the difference between whether I’m throwing an angry, teary hissy fit in the bathroom that I can’t fit into my clothes or whether I’m wearing a lot of the clothes I’ve bought that fit me when I’m <=110 lbs.
I’ve decided my new threshold weight will be 112 lbs.–any time I come creeping up on this, I have to go to the gym and eat better. This will allow me to fit into the clothes I have better, reduce a lot of the yo-yoing (my previous was 115 lbs.), and be more active on the whole.
I imagine for some people, this is one of those things where they’re rubbing their fingers together and rolling their eyes; it’s not lost on me. People don’t like it when someone who is generally considered petite waxes on about their problems, but it’s annoying to keep repeating the cycle and keep having those moments where all I can wear is jeans but I really want to wear the nice clothes I’ve bought.
When I can wear the pinup clothes I have–I feel better. I look better. This will also help me wear a lot more of my actual vintage clothes too, as a lot of them tend to be tighter fitting.
5. Focus on things I have by focusing on more outfit-related posts.
This one is more pinup-focused than beauty; I want to show off more of the outfits that I have instead of purchasing more than I actually need. I’ve done a pretty significant outfit cull this year to allow for room for the clothes I want to wear. I also inherited some clothing from my grandmother upon her passing, and would like to make some posts dedicated to her memory.
Additionally, now that I have a camera, I think this should be easier to accomplish by myself than needing to rely on other people to take pictures of me. (Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to do more photoshoots; I definitely have people I love working with and would like to do a few more shoots with in the upcoming year.)
6. Make more purchases at Ulta than Sephora when possible.
Truth be told: I’m not a giant fan of Ulta despite their better rewards program. Their stores tend to be poorly maintained, poorly staffed, and poorly educated (not every Ulta is like this, but of the multiple I’ve been to in several states, this is a recurring issue.)
But given that they do have 20% off coupons more frequently and a rewards program that offers “cash” (as in points translate to money that can be redeemed on purchases, not actual money) in lieu of fancy deluxe samples, I am more inclined to spend there.
This means a better return on spending. So, for brands where I can get it at both places (e.g. Anastasia Beverly Hills, Bumble and Bumble, etc.), that’s where I will purchase from. However, many of my preferred brands (e.g. Make Up For Ever, Kat Von D, BITE Beauty, etc.) are all Sephora exclusives.
Right now, I have horded away enough points for a nice little spending spree, but I intend to save up for the Dyson hair drier.
7. Project Pan
There was a half-hearted attempt on my end to do a Project Pan in 2017 that got left by the wayside, but as I now have more of an outlet than Instagram for these things, it’s definitely something I intend to pursue harder. I will be posting about this and the items I intend to use in about a week or so.
8. Replacements only no buy until April
In the spirit of getting my finances in better health, I’ve decided to put myself on a no buy up until April (with replacements only being the exception.)
This is for a few reasons:
1. I generally have a small collection as is and want to use more of it up. This is the year I would generally like to finish both a lipstick and eyeshadow.
2. I have a nice amount of products that could stand to be reviewed individually and thoroughly, that aren’t products reviewed to death by the hype-osphere.
3. Saving money never hurts.
I’m allowing replacements only because I generally don’t stock myself with extras in most cases. I don’t have back-ups of anything except my night-time moisturizer and exfoliator. Everything else is bought after running out.
I did receive a gift card or two, so that is something I would allow myself to use because it’s not my own money, but in general, I am trying to keep my spending and unnecessary purchases low this year.
Those are my plans going into next year. What are your goals? Are you going on any specific plans or how will you be challenging yourself?
Today is the day that Beautylish opens its doors to allow people to get a “Lucky Bag.” It’s an idea inspired by the Japanese tradition, fukubukuro, where street merchants make bags of goods out of their stock and sell at a significant discount for the new year.
Beautylish has been doing this for several years now and I participated last year. It is possible that the general offerings may change going into next year, but it remained pretty consistent between 2016 and 2017 in what it offered.
There were two rounds offered this last year; a XL Beautylish Lucky Bag at $160 and the standard Lucky Bag at $75. I purchased the $75 Lucky Bag, and my contents were the following:
Clearly, I got well over my $75 price of admission in product value (which is over ~$100), but in retrospect: I only had two real things from the bag that I got personal value from, the Bioderma Sensibio (a staple for me; $6.90 for 100ml) and the Wayne Goss 02 brush ($35). The actual personal value I got from the bag was a total of $43.90; a significant difference of $31.10. Though I did wind-up selling the Modern Renaissance and Z-Palette, they also had to be reduced in cost in order to sell from the full retail value (/r/makeupexchange is a great place for buyers, not so much for sellers.) But with doing this extra step, I was able to get to $75.
I still have two of the products (IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream and the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector) that I’ve not been able to unload and won’t be using (IT Cosmetics has a ton of silicones in it which my skin is reactive towards and the BECCA is not a shade that works for my skintone), but will probably pass on as gifts to friends that would be able to give them a loving home.
As far as whether or not I think a Lucky Bag is worth it, here’s things that help make it easier to make the decision if you are considering this:
If you are someone that likes surprises, this will be great for you.
If you are willing to try anything you receive (many bags gave out Jeffree Star products; a controversial brand due to the owner’s personality and attitude towards–well, a lot of people.)
If you have spare money to burn ($75 is a little pricy for a crapshoot of products you aren’t guaranteed to love.)
If you are OK with potentially not having a full personal value of $75 returned on your investment (see above, in my case).
If you are someone who likes to carefully decide your own products, this is not a good way to spend your money.
If you are very conscientious about which brands you support and purchase from, this is not a good way to spend your money. (Particularly if animal testing or animal products are a concern for you; the brushes, in particular, may use animal hairs.)
If you are not OK with not getting a full amount returned on your investment for both actual cost return and personal value return, this is not a good way to spend your money.
The Lucky Bags give items out at random, which means (and especially for people on each end of the skin tone spectrum), there may be colors in your bag which may not suit your skin tones or may cause reactions depending on skin sensitivities.
Personally, I will not be participating again this year. Between only getting two actual products that I would use (though, I do love the Wayne Goss brush!) and offloading the rest, this wasn’t a great decision for me, especially because I am someone who likes having a smaller collection. There are also plenty of people that also enjoyed their experience, but I think this is one of those things where you need to have a realistic grasp on your personality before knowing if you’ll be content or not. The Lucky Bag I got generally didn’t work out for me and my tastes, but that was a personal experience–yours may be different if you participate and you may get some things you really love.
If you’ve participated before, did you enjoy your lucky bag? Would you participate in future years? Let me know your thoughts.
Relatively speaking, I have a smaller wardrobe of makeup products. The amount that I have is relative to each person; some people only have a product or two so mine might be larger, others may have 50 lipsticks alone. The “right number” for each person varies depending on the person. For me, this is my current collection as it stands going into 2018.
In an effort to moderate my collection, I am including if I would or intend to repurchase, how I use the product, and if it’s something that I may destash in the future (and why/why not that would be the case). These things are important because it gives me an idea for what in my collection I would be leaning towards replacing and making impulse purchases and to be prepared for it, so that way, I am not buying things impulsively when I’v already got similar products in my collection.
Taking a look for what I already have can also highlight what it is I may be missing, and again, may be inclined to purchase without foresight, but for now, I am actually content with what I have and don’t see any glaring gaps in things I may be missing. Below the cut is everything I currently have.
Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body Foundation (Y215)
Purpose in Collection: It stands as my every day foundation to even out my skin tone. I consider it “Holy Grail” and it is the one foundation I return to and works best with my skin type.
How do I use it?: As a foundation, of course. But this also really helps as a “tinted moisturizer” and adds moisture back into my skin. I can definitely notice when I haven’t used it frequently and it makes a difference in my skin.
Repurchase?: Absolutely! I’ve already purchased it twice before and am currently on my third bottle since it has come out in July 2016.
Destash?: No. This will have a spot in my collection for as long as it is produced (or until something better comes out.) I sometimes use something with slightly more coverage for photoshoots, but this is what I wear almost daily.
Tarte Cosmetics Rainforest of the Sea SPF 15 Foundation (Porcelain)
Purpose in Collection: Foundation with more coverage for photoshoots.
How do I use it?: As a foundation, so something to even out my skintone. It’s better used in the months I have not had a lot of sun exposure, but also used to reduce redness in my face.
Repurchase?: Have not decided. It definitely has higher coverage than my beloved Water Blend, but I only would be able to use it for a portion of the year. As Water Blend is sheerer, it fits my skin better for more months.
Destash?: I wouldn’t say I won’t do it, but it depends on how much use I can get out of it. My skin is a hair too dark to make this work right now. If this doesn’t get as much use as I would expect it to, I will likely destash.
Make Up For Ever Step 1 Primer (Nourishing)
Purpose in Collection: Face primer.
How do I use it?: Enhance length of foundation longevity and increase moisture in my dry ass lizard skin.
Repurchase?: Yup. I’ve tried other moisturizing primers, but this works the best for me, in my experience.
Destash?: No. I use mine fairly regularly and I find this works well enough to not be replaced.
Dior Flash Luminizer Radiance Booster Pen (Pink)
Purpose in Collection: Under-eye concealer.
How do I use it?: Reducing the appearance of under-eye bags and dullness.
Repurchase?: No. Per my previous review, I prefer a different product and would rather use that over this. It’s thicker than I prefer and the brush is very prickly on the delicate skin area. (In fairness; I know this isn’t intended to be used as a concealer, but that’s how I use it.)
Destash?: No. It may not be what I prefer, but it gets the job done and I’m also relatively sure I’m coming to the end of the product sooner rather than later anyways.
MAC Sheertone Blush (Ladyblush)
Purpose in Collection: Blush.
How do I use it?: Adding color back into my face to look human.
Repurchase?: I can’t answer this quite yet; the amount of product on this is huge and while it definitely lasts well and this color goes with everything, I would repurchase this but I don’t know that I actually will when it is used up.
Destash?: No. I don’t know of another blush I would actually use to replace this. It goes along with everything without clashing too much.
Make Up For Ever Artist Face Color (S112)
Purpose in Collection: Contour.
How do I use it?: Adding definition to my face; contouring. “Darkening” my face when using the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea to make the color match better by darkening at the points where it connects with my neck for cohesion.
Repurchase?: No. It’s not a bad product, but the color is “redder” than I would prefer a contour shade to be. I prefer more gray-based contour powders to emulate a shadow better.
Destash?: No. I can see myself using this, especially as it’s my only one. It’s not a bad product, it’s just not an ideal shade for my skintone. Until I either get really annoyed or it looks awful in pictures, I’m willing to use this up. As it stands right now, it’s not noticeable and can be tolerated.
Kat Von D Lock-It Loose Setting Powder
Purpose in Collection: Setting powder.
How do I use it?: Setting the under-eye area concealer.
Repurchase?: Yes. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better for dry skin than the Laura Mercier Loose Translucent Setting Powder and emphasizes the drier skin to a lesser degree.
Destash?: No. I will be using this up for sure, as I don’t have a back-up and there’s no indication of a better setting powder for drier skin on the market.
Benefit 24-Hour Brow Setter Shaping & Setting Gel
Purpose in Collection: Brow gel.
How do I use it?: Keep the shape of my eyebrows in place throughout the day and makes it easier to trim them once set.
Repurchase?: As written previously, no. I much prefer the Anastasia Brow Gel and will be using that once this has been used up.
Destash?: No. Although I don’t like this as much as the other and have a Brow Gel ready to go, I’d much rather use this up. While I don’t buy into the sunk cost fallacy, it isn’t abhorrently bad enough to just toss or try and sell (especially when I’ve used it enough to not warrant the price for shipping.)
Anastasia Brow Wiz (Taupe)
Purpose in Collection: Brow product.
How do I use it?: Reduce sparse appearance in brows, make brows look fuller.
Repurchase?: Maybe? I prefer other brow products, but I would be willing to repurchase again. Some people state that they’ve gone through this quickly, but I’ve been using it for 3 months and am not close to using it up yet.
Destash?: No. While it’s not the best brow product I’ve ever used, it’s a nice pairing with a brow gel. I will definitely be using this product until completion.
Urban Decay Eye Primer (Anti-Aging)
Purpose in Collection: Eyeshadow primer.
How do I use it?: Enhance longevity and pigmentation of eyeshadow and liner. I find it also helps to reduce the creasing effect due to my eyelid and how it is creased.
Repurchase?: Yes. I have used a few others and didn’t like them nearly as much as this one.
Destash?: No. I use this regularly and haven’t found another similar product I like nearly as much as this one.
Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash (Brown)
Purpose in Collection: Mascara.
How do I use it?: Enhance lash length, separation of lashes, and additional volume.
Repurchase?: Yes. This is my fourth repurchase of this item and is my favorite mascara. It comes in both brown and black, but I typically wear the brown daily.
Destash?: No. After playing with other mascaras, this is the one I prefer the most.
Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette (Lazarus, Samael, Solas, Saleos, Sytry, and Shax)
Purpose in Collection: Neutral eyeshadows.
How do I use it?: Eyeshadows used for neutral, office-conservative/friendly, or general looks. I don’t use a lot of color, so these are the standard eyeshadows I use.
Repurchase?: Although I like the shades themselves, there were enough shades in the palette itself that I didn’t like or would not use that would cause me not to repurchase these. Instead, I would replace with similar singles. These come with fallout and there are other formulas I prefer without it.
Destash?: I think there is a reasonable likelihood after reviewing these colors that during my next destash, I will probably wind-up throwing out one or two of these colors given that I don’t use them all regularly.
MAC Eyeshadows (Omega, Vex and Nylon)
Purpose in Collection: Eyeshadows.
How do I use it?: Eyeshadows used for neutral or general looks. Omega also triple threats as a brow powder and a contour powder. Bar none, Omega is the one eyeshadow I would consider closest to “holy grail” in my collection based on this. I use Nylon as an inner eye highlight to make my eyes look bigger. Vex is used for more vintage looks.
Repurchase?: Both Nylon and Omega have a role in my collection that no other product fills. Vex, I am on the fence about.
Destash?: I would not destash any at this point. I use all of them fairly regularly and I quite like the MAC shadow formulation.
Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows (M500 and S114)
Purpose in Collection: Eyeshadows.
How do I use it?: A eyeshadow base that is close to my skintone; a gray used for vintage looks.
Repurchase?: The Artist Shadow formula has been discontinued (and will be reformulated), so not an option.
Destash?: Not M500; it’s easily my most used eyeshadow, but S114 could be on the pile if I don’t feel like I can use it as much as I should. I’ll be honest: I was disappointed by these eyeshadows. I don’t mind a sheerer formula, but these require a lot of building up and even then, it doesn’t build as nicely as I’d hoped.
Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner ((Earth)quake and Blacquer)
Purpose in Collection: Eyeliner.
How do I use it?: Tightlining. Adding dimension to eyes and drawing out the blue in my eyes.
Repurchase?: I would not repurchase Blacquer (I rarely use it), but definitely would for (Earth)quake which I use almost daily.
Destash?: I can foresee Blacquer being destashed if I continue to not have a reason to use it. I rarely use black for every day purposes because it is so stark against my coloring. I use it really only for special occasions or photography. (Earth)quake is used almost daily, so it would not be destashed.
How do I use it?: Vintage looks; particularly cat eyeliner.
Repurchase?: Yes. The price is right, it stays on even in humid temperatures without smudging, and comes in a dark brown.
Destash?: Possibly the black, but the dark brown is definitely a keeper. I just don’t use black liner enough.
MAC Cosmetics Lipsticks (Kinda Sexy, Chili, and Brave)
Purpose in Collection: Lipsticks.
How do I use it?: Kinda Sexy is the resident nude lipstick, Brave is MLBB (My Lips But Better), and Chili is the brick red of my childhood dreams.
Repurchase?: I would repurchase all three happily. The formulas are great, colors are excellent, and I find I really like wearing all three colors.
Destash?: No. All of them fulfill a unique position in my lipstick library and so they shall stay.
Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick (Project Chimps and Double Dare)
Purpose in Collection: Liquid lipsticks.
How do I use it?: When I need something that won’t smudge easily or wear off easily, these are the ones I turn to. Project Chimps, much like MAC Chili, is a fabulous red brick color. Double Dare is a great pink that I can wear both pinup and “unpinned.”
Repurchase?: Yes, but Project Chimps was limited edition and there is no indication Kat will be bringing it back permanently. Double Dare is a newer addition to my collection and hasn’t been worn enough to establish this yet.
Destash?: No to either.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution (Love Liberty)
Purpose in Collection: Lipstick.
How do I use it?: Darker “vamp/berry” lipstick for fall/autumn.
Repurchase?: Yes! I love the formula, I love the color, all of it is great. No complaints on this.
Destash?: No. I haven’t found a darker shade in a formula I like and a color that works for me as well as this. Plus, this fills a specific role for me. Even if it doesn’t work as an “authentic vintage” kind of shade, it’s pretty enough and works for me that I won’t be destashing it.
Besame Cosmetics Classic Color Lipstick (Red Velvet)
Purpose in Collection: Lipstick.
How do I use it?: I used it for my Peggy Carter cosplay, but also for office-friendly red and presentations when I need to be pumped up.
Repurchase?: I actually have a back-up of this waiting, but I would definitely repurchase this. The formula, as a bullet lipstick, is top notch especially for a red. I don’t necessarily believe in a “universal” color, but this is the closest I’ve seen to it yet.
Destash?: No. I still intend to do some Peggy Carter cosplays and I love wearing this color. It’s kind of like the instant kick you get from hearing something like Bohemian Rhapsody or We Will Rock You.
Givenchy Le Rouge (Mandarine Bolero)
Purpose in Collection: Lipstick.
How do I use it?: With the combination of the MUFE Aqua Liner in 23C to create a lovely orange-based, retro coral lipstick. Mostly worn during spring/summer months.
Repurchase?: This is technically a repurchase, but I think after this, I am going to have to do some more experimenting. As much as I know I can get in the ballpark for what I’m going after with this, there has to be something closer than this out there.
Destash?: I won’t say no, but I think it’ll be much more likely when the MUFE Aqua Liner in 23C gets used up that this will also probably be tossed or sold. It pulls more pink and white-based than orange and slightly muted without the liner, and I’m not really into that.
Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner (23C – Orange)
Purpose in Collection: Lipliner.
How do I use it?: Adding more of an orange emphasis to Givenchy Mandarine Bolero and mutedness; without it, it’s more pink and more white-based.
Repurchase?: Not unless I would also purchase Mandarine Bolero; I really use this as an addition to that product.
Destash?: Not unless I would also be destashing Mandarine Bolero. These two work together and are used together. If one goes, both go.
BITE Beauty Lip Pencil (076)
Purpose in Collection: Lipliner.
How do I use it?: Maintaining precision, adding depth and color, and increasing longevity for red lipsticks.
Repurchase?: Yes. I quite like the formula of it and it really does help to extend the wear of the lipstick.
Destash?: No. I like this product enough that I will definitely use it up.
This is everything as it stands. Here are some things I have personally noticed in analyzing it:
I can generally keep track of everything and while I typically don’t replicate in a lot of areas, this is something I would like to continue to work on to keep reducing. While red lipstick is a staple piece of a vintage makeup wardrobe, I don’t really need to have that many.
I don’t have a highlighter after realizing I generally don’t like it and don’t think it really helps. I prefer a more traditionally “matte” look (even though I have drier skin) and I don’t particularly like how highlighter looks on me.
Getting a better concept of knowing what colors work best for me (e.g. reds, berries, orange-based corals) helps to reduce impulsive purchases and things that won’t work (i.e. vampy, white-based pinks, greiges, etc.)
Even though I have all neutrals, I don’t necessarily use them all and I know I can cut down on it. At this point, it is just knowing which ones to cut.
At this point, I have a collection that is a nice size and can be cut down slightly. I don’t have any particular gaps that I can see would need to be filled at this point. I think at this point, it’s being able to use products up that will be the bigger challenge. I intend to do a Project Pan for 2018 (and will document it here). But given my sloth-like pace on using products up, I foresee a lot of these will remain into next year.
How do you feel about your collection going into next year? Are there particular gaps you are looking to fill? Or are you content and working towards using products up?
Let’s be frank: foundation matching is a pain in the ass on the same level of paper cuts on the webbing of your hands, folding a fitted sheet, or making French macarons. Some of the difficulty is that depending on where you fall on the skintone spectrum, shades may not even be available or prevalent. Adding to this is making sure you have a reasonable understanding of your actual skin type to know which formulas are appropriate. There’s a lot that goes into a good foundation match, and I’m working on a guide to make it easier for folks.
Part 1 (this post) will be dedicated to determining skin type.
Part 2 will be dedicated to determining undertone.
Part 3 will be how to actually match a foundation.
Part 4 will be how I found my foundations that I use and things to consider when picking a foundation.
With this being said and noted, let’s get right into it.
Knowing your skin type is critical to knowing what kind of formulations work best for your skin. Knowing your skin type is also important to make sure you are treating and caring for it well; your integumentary system (skin) is the largest organ you have and is visible to the eye; you wouldn’t treat your respiratory system poorly, so why wouldn’t you take care of your skin?
There are roughly about 4 skin types with multiple conditions (e.g. someone may have dry skin as the skin type, but reactive or dehydrated as the condition.) I consider it not to be firm and to be on more of a spectrum.
Where I sit on this is on the dry portion of the spectrum, leaning into very dry territory. I was able to determine that I have drier skin in a few ways:
My first hint was that before having a regular skincare routine, whenever I put foundation on, it tended to look flaky and scaly on my skin, and never really quite looked like skin. It would remain sitting on the top and look like it was peeling off. Furthermore, some people may have skin that “glistens,” but mine never really does–it stays relatively flat and without a lot of dimension.
All skin produces oils to some degree, but dry skin types produce significantly less than oilier skins. When it comes to foundation, this is a problem because you want it to meld into your skin so it looks like–well, skin, obviously.
Given that I am most familiar with dry skin types, I’ll start there and move my way towards more oily skin types:
Dry skin is essentially the chronic loss of moisture (namely, oil) within the skin. It can be characterized as having some feelings of “tightness” in the skin (though, as someone with dry skin–I’ve never actually noticed this, so your mileage may vary.) Because of the loss of moisture, it means the skin barrier can be more susceptible to certain conditions and become more reactive/sensitive (such as eczema and infections.) Dryness can also be a condition, but if you have it chronically, it is more a skin type than condition.
Dry skin can be caused by your genetic makeup, climate changes (e.g. shifting into winter; and to compensate, heating and AC), harsh soaps, medications (particularly some contraceptives), and age. Typically, as you get older, the drier your skin will become.
If you were to blot your skin and have minimal oil on the paper, you likely have dry skin. For those of us with this skin type, here are things I’ve come to learn that might be helpful for you:
Avoid powders! Powders tend to suck up more moisture to adhere better to the skin; when you have dry skin, you need all the moisture you can get.
A good skincare regimen is really critical, especially if you want to avoid looking flaky.
For foundation recommendations, stick with liquids and creams. Mineral-based foundations can work for dry skin, but will require substantial preparation.
Silicones can work for certain dry skinned ladies, but in my experience, I have found them to contribute to dryness and aggravate my skin. I typically avoid silicone-based formulas whenever possible.
Another ingredient to avoid otherwise include denatured alcohol (tends to dry out the skin further); this does not include fatty alcohols (unless you know your skin reacts poorly, but this is an individual case-by-case issue).
Occlusives are awesome and are the best at replenishing moisture back into the skin.
AHAs are your friend! If you have sensitive skin, lactic acid and mandelic acids will be much kinder than glycolic acids, but if your skin can handle it, glycolic acids will also do the trick.
Drier skin types are more likely to be sensitive, so be wary of products with denatured alcohol and fragrance!
Water consumption is important and will help get moisture back, but it will not cure it if it is a chronic issue.
I have previously wrote about my skincare routine, for anyone with dry skin and wanting to get an idea for what products to research or look into for themselves.
Normal is the phrase that gets thrown around, but perhaps the better explanation of it is “Balanced.” People with this skin type typically have skin that doesn’t veer too oily or too dry; were it to be a scale, it would rest right in the middle.
Generally, people with this skin type may have conditions, but there’s not a real underlying issue otherwise. Their pores typically tend to be smaller, skin can be radiant, and in short: they generally won the genetic lottery.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t things people with normal skin types should (or shouldn’t) be doing, but given that the balance is there, there’s fewer things to worry about.
Generally, may need some extra moisturizer but can adjust products to preference
Despite not needing to treat a certain skin type, sunscreen should still be utilized for skin exposure to the sun to avoid anti-aging if you plan on being outside for extended periods of time.
Keep track if any problems arise from certain products (and this goes for any skin type.)
Can generally use any type of foundation successfully; dependent upon preference.
This skin type can be aggravating for those that have it and typically presents with issues of both dryness and oiliness. Most people have it manifest in their T-zone area (oily T-zone, dry face otherwise), but it is dependent on person and can be present anywhere. Pore sizes may be different depending on the area, as well (larger in the oilier areas, but smaller in the drier spots.)
Combination skin can be caused by genetics, climate conditions, and several other factors.
“Multimasking” might be the trend made for combo skin types; this entails placing masks (or it could be other products) intended for dry skin on your drier areas and masks intended for the oily portion there and rinsing off at once.
Gels, light-weight creams, or serums are best suited for combination skin types
Liquid and mineral foundations may work best for combination skin as it can work for the drier and oilier areas; powders may be too much for the drier areas (depending on how dry), but creams may be too emollient for the oilier areas.
Oily skin is largely determined by genetics, but can be influenced by medication, diet, climate, and incorrect product use.
Avoid emollients! This may lead to pore blockage and blemishes.
BHAs are the exfoliants you are looking for and may help reduce the appearance of pore size.
Much like dry skin, oily skinned folks may want to avoid certain ingredients like denatured alcohol and other drying ingredients as it may trigger further oil production.
Liquids, lotions, serums, and light gels are the type of moisturizer formulas you should be looking into.
The best foundation types for this skin type include liquid and powder formulas; minerals should work too provided they do not contain ingredients that upset your skin.
Some ingredients that can be helpful (ymmv) for oily skin include clay, honey, green tea, and snail mucin.
Given the length of this post as is, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include a little bit about certain conditions for skin types. As with all of this, it is important to note: for any treatments, consult your primary care provider (PCP) or a dermatologist first.
This skin condition is typical for those with drier skins (but can be present in any skin type). It can be triggered by medication (in my case) that causes the skin to react to the presence of certain ingredients, and can manifest in the form of hives, blemishes, or other means. In my particular case, I know heavy silicone-based formulas tend to aggravate my skin, so I avoid them whenever possible.
This skin condition indicates that the skin is prone to acne responses. This can be very painful and cause self-esteem issues. It can be treated with skincare or may need medical intervention (i.e. medication), but a good dermatologist will be able to diagnose and help with this for those affected.
Dehydrated skin, much like dry skin, exhibits a lot of similar characteristics so it is unsurprising that it can be confusing to determine. Though, the big tell with this condition is that skin can be both oily and dry feeling at the same time, and when this is the case, it is a good indication that the person has dehydrated skin.
This wraps up this section of the guide. For any questions or concerns, or things you’d like to see (or because this is the internet, any complaints), put it in the comments section.
The Sephora VIB Sale came and went and with it, my purchases from the sale. This year, I only snagged three things, but of the three, two will be returned to Sephora. After playing with the lipsticks, I decided they weren’t for me even though I tested one of the two out before making the purchase. In an effort to curb my spending habits and write some more meaningful posts, I’ve decided any time I return something, I have to write about it so I don’t repurchase it down the road.
Here’s why the two items (BITE Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquified Liquid Lipstick in Infuse and Pat McGrath Labs LuxeTrance Lipstick in Tropicalia) are being returned.
BITE Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquified Liquid Lipstick in Infuse
Price: $24/0.25 oz (making it $96/1 oz)
Ingredients: Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Rosinate, Silica*, Coconut Alkanes*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Shellac Wax*, Hydroxystearic Acid*, Bismuth Oxychloride*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax*, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract*, Aroma (Flavor), Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate, Vanilla Tahitensis Fruit Extract*, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate*, Tocopherol*, Resveratrol*, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower Extract*, Ascorbyl Palmitate*, Momordica Grosvenorii Fruit Extract*, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis Extract*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract*, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Skin Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract* +/- May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI77499), Carmine (CI 75470), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Red 40 Lake (CI 16035), Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 27 Lake (CI 45410), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 30 Lake (CI 73360), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Tin Oxide*.
Do they test on non-human animals?: No.
When I tried Infuse originally, I swatched it a few times before deciding I needed it as a perfect vampy lip color. At that point, I made the decision to try it (it was a brand new tester) and used a cotton bud to apply it, and when I did, it applied beautifully and was this nice dark berry color with very slight patchiness.
When I finally bought this and wore it, it was a different story. The application was a nightmare; it was patchy, and the coloring was much darker than how I initially tested it. Plus, the doe-foot applicator made it so much more difficult to apply (which I thought would be more useful). The product in general is very thick (and this is consistent across the line) and more like a pigmented gloss than traditional liquid lipstick, but this particular shade requires a lot of fussing to make it work.
I’ve worn this a few times since buying it and it wasn’t what I was expecting even after trying it for a test ride first. Even using it with a Q-tip doesn’t help the difficulty in applying it, and blotting doesn’t reduce the depth. I’ve also gone through my existing collection and while my beloved Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Love Liberty isn’t as dark, it’s a gorgeous berry that I know works for me and is wearable as a work-friendly, “vampier” color for fall/winter. Given this, I know I don’t need to fill this niche as badly as I originally did.
I’m not sure what caused the difference in the shade in how I fell in love with it at the store versus when I had it in my possession, but it’s something I haven’t been able to recreate and as such, will be returning.
Pat McGrath Labs LuxeTrance Lipstick in Tropicalia
Price: $38/0.14 oz (making it ~$271.43/1 oz)
Do they test on non-human animals?: Yes (when required by law).
This is a “shame on me” situation.
I knew right away in my heart of hearts that something about this wasn’t going to be quite right. I could tell based on the Sephora swatches that the colors seemed off, especially once I saw Auxiliary Beauty’s swatches on the lipsticks, but I went and did it anyways, because hope is a dangerous thing sometimes. (I have a dream of finding the perfect muted, orange-based, dark retro coral instead of this white-based pink shit that gets shoved down our throats.)
But I went and did it anyways because “muted” and “coral” are apparently two words together I cannot resist. And boy, did I get a surprise.
And when you compare to the swatch on my hand, there is obviously a big difference between these two. The actual coloring on this is a pink-primary, orange-secondary coral with a muted base. Meaning, the primary color in terms of strength is pink, secondary is orange, and the color is dulled (muted).
I knew it was Photoshopped. I did it anyways. I am disappointed in myself.
To boot, while it isn’t exactly the color I was looking for, I already have a similar color to this in my collection; the Givenchy Le Rouge in Mandarine Bolero. That lipstick, as you can see for comparison, is primary orange-pink, albeit not as muted. (I typically use the Make Up For Ever Aqua lip liner in 23C to add a little more of an orange muted punch.)
So, I already have a color in my collection that better meets my needs and doesn’t Photoshop lie to me? This is a no brainer: Tropicalia gets returned.
(As a side note: the formula is a total knock-out and easily earned itself a spot in my favorite formulas. It reminds me of almost a hybrid between the Givenchy Le Rouge and Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipsticks with all the good qualities of both, so if you’re in the market for a luxury lipstick, I strongly recommend it. I just would make sure you can swatch them first on account of the stock photos being made of Photoshop lies.)
Have you returned anything lately? If so, why? Or what do you do to make sure you don’t have to return something?
In a few days, one of the most anticipated sales of the year will begin: the 20% off Sephora sale (for VIB Rouges and VIBs, at least) that only happens once a year. For weeks before hand, people scramble to find out the date and it’s a mad rush to determine the shopping list before it goes down. Inspired by Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick and Faceonomics, this is going to be one for this holiday season as well.
Much like the previous pin-up based anti-haul (expect to see another one coming up in the next few weeks with the onset of the holiday season!), this one will follow the same type of perspective. As a reminder, “the purpose of an anti-haul isn’t to be mean to brands and businesses (there are some I don’t like and won’t purchase from and there are plenty which I do like, but will not be buying because I’m going to be smart about what I do spend on!), but to be smart about what you do choose to spend your money on. Unlike a wishlist of things to pine over, these are things I know I will not be purchasing and why I will not be spending my money on it.” You may also disagree with my reasoning behind why I’m not purchasing something–that’s cool. You do you.
Here’s the list of what won’t be going in my cart this season.
Fenty Beauty line
When Fenty Beauty hit Sephora earlier this year, people lost their gotdamn minds–and with good reason! I’m not knocking Fenty Beauty by having it here, I think it’s awesome she’s another brand that is providing 40 shades in a wide variety of undertones and depths. She also has products that are getting a lot of love by people who are typically left out, and that’s a great thing.
But I won’t be purchasing anything from the line. It’s not just that there isn’t a color shade option for me (though, this is true. The line tends to run towards pinker skin tones for the undertone range I would fall within, whereas I’m a pretty high saturation yellow.) The entire foundation line is strictly meant for oily skin types, which rules my very dry skin out. I suppose I could using a nourishing primer, but why do extra work when there are other foundations out there that get the job done already? I don’t need to buy something for the sake of having it.
But there are other products, you’ll say! And I am aware. The reasons I am not going to buy them are practical–I’m in a professional graduate program and while I don’t have a front-facing position, wearing a heavy amount of glitter at work would really be distracting, so how often would I actually wear it? The answer is, maybe once or twice a year, and that’s not enough to warrant the $20 for the eyeliner or the $59 on the eyeshadow palette.
And just looking at the palette alone–it’s entirely glitter. That might be nice if you already have some matte or other palettes to round it out, but being completely honest: are you really going to use an entire palette of colorful glitters on the regular? Is this also the formula you’re willing to commit to? Looking at it alone, I wouldn’t use most of the colors in it. So for the 5-6 I actually might use, that is a pretty tall order for spending $59 on only 5 eyeshadows. Whereas, I could get similar singles from MAC for significantly less *and* have the added bonus of being able to add them to my MUFE magnetic palette and take them with me in addition to my other singles.
Similarly, the highlighters and Match Stix run into a similar line of thought. Sure, there are some really pretty colors in each. Lord knows that Amber in the Match Stix is actually relatively tempting, especially having swatched it in person. It’s definitely something I thought about, and managed to talk myself out of buying. Here’s the thing: I know my makeup usage habits and I know, realistically, buying a cream product (Match Stix) is inherently a bad idea because it will probably dry out before I actually get close to using it up. I know I don’t contour every day, so having a cream product isn’t a good idea for me. Powders last significantly longer, and as such, the Match Stix wouldn’t be a good fit for my collection.
The highlighters are lovely, but again: I wear highlighter even less than I do contour. And while these are in a powder, they’re also not colors I would personally use. I also don’t use highlighter enough as is, so I definitely don’t need ones with two different shades in them. For the two solo ones, only the Metal Moon might work, but for $34, I could buy a single pan highlighter that I could easily magnetize into my MUFE single palette to take with me when I travel, would be significantly cheaper, and would be less of a hassle in working with for depotting.
In short: the Fenty Beauty line as it stands now is not something that really fits in with my makeup habits or personal style, and it’s not anything I would add to my collection.
La Mer The Introductory Collection
First of all: La Mer is that one skincare line that everybody has seen celebrities using and costs at least a kidney on the black market to use on the regular.
Second of all, even if you’re OK with spending the money for La Mer–why would you ever bother with this set? Let’s break down the cost on this one per oz of product.
The Treatment Lotion is regularly sold at $145/5 oz, making it approximately $29/oz. You get 1 oz within this set.
The Revitalizing Hydrating Serum is sold at $195/1 oz. In this set, you get 0.17 oz, making it $33.15.
The Eye Concentrate is regularly sold at 0.5 oz for $205, making it (a rough estimate of) $410 per 1 oz. In this set, it is available at 0.10 oz for about $41 of the cost.
Last, the Moisturizing Soft Cream which comes in at a few different sizes (but it is $170/1 oz), but there is a “travel size” form available at $85 for 0.5 oz on the Sephora website.
In total, for this entire set, the cost of the products added up alone is $188.15, making it a decent deal at about ~20% off the normal prices per oz, all things considered. I can absolutely see how this would entice someone, but I’m not the type to fall into this. And when paired with the Sephora sale prices (another 20% off if you’re a VIB Rouge or VIBs, and 15% off for Beauty Insiders), I can see even more people being interested. But, as Kimberly Clark points out: buying something just for the sake of because it’s on sale is a terrible reason to buy something. You’re still spending a lot of money on a bunch of minis because of the brand name.
Half of the set has products under 0.2 oz; although you will likely not be using a lot of the eye concentrate, the sizes are small enough that it would be difficult to have a grasp on the performance of the products before they are used up. Skincare takes time to see its effects; it’s not makeup where it generally appeals to instant gratification.
There are better holiday sets out there for skincare that are much friendlier on the wallet than the famed La Mer, if you insist on one of these. For those reasons, this isn’t worth it and I won’t be buying it.
Besame Cosmetics Mini Lipstick Set
I am going to get accused of hating Besame one day, and I want to be upfront and say explicitly: it’s not true. I actually really love Besame. What I don’t love are things like this set.
Besame does red lipstick very well. In fact, of any red lipstick on the market, I tend to think their formula is easily in the top 3 best and that’s including liquid lipsticks. They are exceptional formulas that don’t run into a lot of other problems you see with other lipsticks, like bleeding, feathering, and easily smudging. Red is an exceptionally hard and high maintenance color, so the fact that their formula is this exceptional is definitely worthy of praise. That being said–
There are 3-4 (depending on your coloring and perceptions) red lipsticks in this set. Even if you are the pinup type: why? Yes, I see that there is a very dark red, a brown red, a blue undertoned red, and a neutral red, but realistically speaking: how often do you wear reds to warrant having even 3-4 mini lipsticks of it? Are you really going to wear them all? Be honest, average makeup consumer–probably not.
Now, for other skintones, these may not appear as red, and if that’s the case, I can understand how the set would be appealing.
But if you have warmer undertones, at least 3/5 of those lipsticks are going to clash (if this is something that matters.) So, given that 60% of the $25 you’d be shelling out would be unusable–is it really worth spending the money? Even if you have pink or neutral undertones, do you still really need 3-4 red lipsticks in your collection, even if they’re minis?
I can understand how this set might be appealing to someone looking for era-appropriate makeup or even to try and discern their “perfect red,” but it’s still spending money on extra things you don’t necessarily need, especially if it’s unlikely you’ll actually use it in your collection.
If you’re going to spend the $25 on lipstick, get a shade from Besame that you know works with your undertone and keep your collection manageable.
Pat McGrath Labs Mothership Eyeshadow Palettes
For $125, this eyeshadow palette better wash my damn car, take my dog out for a walk, and figure out a way to teach my dumb ass how to get Veronica Lake waves, because WHY.
Look, I have no doubt that there is probably a high quality attached to that price tag. I’ve seen the Temptalia swatches and I won’t lie, the purples on Mothership III look incredible, and I’m generally not persuaded by color. I also think these palettes have generally a nice mix of workable neutrals with straight up color.
But that $125 price tag? Even with 20% is still going to be $100. I don’t know about you, but there is no single eyeshadow palette worth $100 in my book. It is something that will be removed in hours. There’s something to be said about whether higher-end brands are worth it when drugstore brands are getting to be better in terms of quality than they were even just 5 years ago.
Additionally, even if I were to get Mothership III (the one I was most attracted to), I know there’s at least 2 eyeshadows I wouldn’t use which makes it all the more insulting I would drop $100, with $20 going unused. With that $20 I’d have spent on that, I easily could purchase 3 MAC eyeshadow refill pans (at $6 each) with similar-ish colors to what I would use there, and I already have a decent set of neutrals, and have $2 leftover.
In short, this isn’t worth it and I’m not going to buy it.
That wraps it up for this Sephora Sale Anti-Haul. Tell me all the things you won’t be buying this round!
As many of you who read this blog are aware (especially if you’ve seen the sub-header on this blog) that I also double as a graduate student in Public Health. One of the biggest issues in Public Health (and one of the goals of Healthy People 2020, a public health initiative created by experts in the field) is reducing and eliminating disparities which contribute to inequities, one of which can be access to care (in terms of who has it and who does not.)
While makeup is not critical such as having access to resources like healthy foods, mental health care providers, and the ability to afford care in general, makeup is something that can be considered a means of self-care for many, or if nothing else, a means to increase earnings in the workplace if you are a woman. So, yes, makeup isn’t on the radar for the Health and Human Services (and rightfully so!–they have enough on their plate.) But for many women (men and other non-binary genders too!), it is something to help appear “more polished,” or as a means to help reduce anxiety, or even just give a nice moment of zen for a few minutes out of the day. Though it is not the same, it is still a brief moment of importance to that person.
I know what you’re asking: what does this have to do with cruelty-free? We’ll get there. Sit tight.
There’s a lot of terms in makeup and beauty, and many of them are either ill-defined or not at all. For example, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the regulatory body in the United States for cosmetics (obviously, among other things like food and drugs), does not even have a specific definition for “organic.”
Cruelty-free is another one of those definitions that I, personally, find to be ill-defined. The general idea behind it is to reduce, or preferably, eliminate all non-human animal-based cosmetics testing which to many (this writer included) is considered “cruel.” From an ethical standpoint, I can understand the desire behind this 110%.
However, I am also a stickler for details (pedantic powers, activate!) Cruelty-free does not have a legal definition per the FDA. Cruelty-free, in general, is a really difficult thing to pin down depending on who you ask and it is reliant upon the company to disclose their status on non-human animal testing. Some may say they may not actively test, but they may have a third-party demonstrate safety on certain ingredients or products by doing the testing for the company, “absolving” them of any responsibility and, on a technicality, making that a true statement (because it isn’t truly Cosmetics Company A doing the work–it’s their ingredients supplier or manufacturer on their behalf.) Not to mention, all cosmetics have benefited from previous animal testing, regardless of whether or not they currently and actively test.
Obviously, we can’t go back in time and change things. I don’t like the argument that just because we did it once, it should be continued. The idea of “Well, this is how things have always been done and should just continue!” is a line of thought I loathe because it impedes progress.
There are also situations wherein the parent company may not be against or actively performs non-human animal based cosmetics testing, but after being acquired, smaller brands under the parent label may not perform the testing and consider themselves “cruelty-free.” (An example of this is Urban Decay under the L’Oreal umbrella; Urban Decay offers cruelty-free products, some of which are vegan, which the parent company, L’Oreal, is not.) Some individuals will not purchase from these brands under these circumstances, others might–it is an individual person’s prerogative to determine how ethically permissible it may be for him/her/hir.
To be clear: I am not saying it is a bad thing to want to end non-human animal testing. People are absolutely capable of caring about more than one thing at a time! It is still good to want to reduce this! I am, however, saying that is a misnomer and it is important to recognize that. Cruelty-free is a terrible name because cruelty-free is often not free of overall cruelty.
There are two examples of this I would like to point out. Get your tea, cookies, and a blanket, because this is going to be a long one:
Lack of Foundation Shades as a Form of Systemic Racism
Let me make one thing clear before going forward: just because the KKK, a racist stereotype, or slur is not used or involved does not mean something cannot be racist. As a white person, I do not necessarily get to make the call whether or not something is racist and offensive. I do, however, try and amplify people who are affected and what/why their thoughts may find it that way on a certain subject. I also recognize that just because one person of a certain identity does/does not find something racist that they are a representative of everyone else in that ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Individuals are not monoliths.
As many of these articles point out on the subject; representation matters when it comes to the marketing. If people don’t know a product exists, how likely are they to go searching and finding it? Especially when the people pushing the images of beauty are white and only using white individuals to sell the products? It creates the idea a product isn’t intended for them and are not likely to seek it out.
If you look at multiple brands, there are often barely any shades representative of darker skintones. I’ve culled a few examples to give you an idea:
You get the point.
There are some that might say, “Well, don’t you think it’s a bit much to call this cruel? The brands are just harming themselves, not really anyone else.”
This is a point I’m going to have to disagree on. Lisa Jean Francois explains that when there are only limited options available for covering up hyperpigmentation or acne scars, [people of color] are accused of attempting to lighten their skin in some cases (when, really, they’re using what options are available without going into “ashy” territory.)
When these brand formulate options intended largely for light-medium skintones, they are alienating a huge base of consumers. It supports the idea, according to Davis (2013), that the only ideal of beauty is to look as close to white as possible, but when there are few options, this may unintentionally happen. Skin tones are constantly changing and as the population becomes more diverse, so too will the need for a variation in skin tones in cosmetics beyond light to medium shades.
As such, this is why I choose to support brands that have a history of supporting darker skintones such as Cover FX, MAC Cosmetics, Make Up For Ever, and now Fenty Beauty, regardless of whether or not they test on non-human animals. The idea of being able to support brands that are inclusive and offer shades for a variety of skin tones and skin types is as important to reduce cruelty for other people. It incl
Mica Mining in India
For those who may not be aware; mica is a very common (and cheap) ingredient in makeup (and skincare, for that matter.) It is also used in pottery, paint, some medical applications (Ayurvedic medicine, specifically), electronic insulators, toothpaste, and other means. As such, given the wide variety of products it can be used for, it is a highly sought out mineral. It is most commonly found in India, with 25% of the world’s production coming from Jharkand and Bihar. Both of these regions have around a little over a third of their population living in poverty. In these same conditions, many mica mines that have been shut down, have people (including some as young as five years old) illegally mining mica in order to obtain a source of income, selling the illegally sourced materials to third-parties who often ship to China and forward onto companies in the USA and Europe.
The risks are dangerous in these mines; as they are illegal operations, there is no oversight which means they can be potentially prone to collapsing (death or severe injury), and for many, there is also the risk of other health complications. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), prolonged exposure (meaning, anything over 20 million particles of mica per cubic foot of air averaged over an 8-hour shift–so, not your Bare Minerals or other powder cosmetics on your face all day) can lead to complications such as scarring of the lungs, coughing, weakness, weight loss, asthma, silicosis, and potentially even tuberculosis.
Much like how companies skirt non-human animal cosmetic testing claims by having third-parties do it on their behalf, manufacturers and suppliers will do the same thing by having other companies source the ingredients from these illegal mining activities, meaning the cosmetics companies are technically in the clear and can remain ignorant. Although some companies claim they source only from legal mines, there is no true way to indicate if mica was obtained from a legal or illegal mine. Especially when 70% of India’s mica output is estimated to account to come from illegal mines.
Some companies have responded to inquiries about how they source their mica. For example, L’Oreal (parent company of Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Urban Decay, IT Cosmetics, etc.) even published their mica sourcing policy on their website:
In spite of these challenges, L’Oréal has committed itself to remain in India and ensure the traceability and transparency of its supply chain. We believe that discontinuing the use of Indian mica would further weaken the situation in the region. In addition, local NGOs and expert organisations are supportive of efforts made to secure the mica supply chain and thus improve the living and working conditions in the region.
We have therefore decided to implement a sustainable procurement policy in India based on a limited number of suppliers who have committed to sourcing from legal gated mines only, where working conditions can be closely monitored and human rights respected. They also have to conduct independent audits to ensure such commitments are respected and invest in community-building activities in the areas where they operate to address underlying causes.
In addition, L’Oréal has engaged in collaborative action with stakeholders across industries and along the value chain (from end users to communities), which is essential in order to gain more leverage and achieve long-term solutions. We therefore actively contributed to the Responsible Mica Sourcing Summit, a first of its kind initiative, organised by The Natural Resources Stewardship Circle (NRSC) and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) in February 2016 in Delhi.
Thanks to this strategy, 99.2% of our mica comes from secured sources today.
Estee Lauder (parent company of MAC Cosmetics, Tom Ford Beauty, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, Too Faced, and its namesake), on the other hand, states that only 10% of their mica is sourced from India and was assisting to help fund schools in villages around mica mining areas. Despite that only 10% is sourced from India, Estee Lauder makes no mention as to the legality of the source (and/or if routine audits are performed) or who their supplier may be.
Lush has stated that they are working to replace the mica in their products with synthetic mica, but there has been no hard date issued to when this can be expected to be done. As of writing this in 2017 (three years after the initial announcement), Lush still has products with non-synthetic mica present.
Mica is in almost every product, so it is difficult to avoid and even more difficult to have suppliers chase down where each batch comes from. When coupled with the fact that most brands are not transparent about which suppliers they use, as a consumer, it can be exceptionally difficult to navigate the ethics of purchasing makeup overall when you can’t be sure that you’ve purchased products with fruit from illegal child labor or if its coming from a place with more stringent labor laws (with safer standards for employees.)
I’ll be honest: I don’t have a good answer for this one. The only thing I can think of to help this issue is to bring it to the spotlight (such as posts like this) and to help put pressure on brands and their suppliers to make their sourcing more transparent. Much like it exists already with non-human animal testing, we are unlikely to determine which supplier a brand may use, but we can at least encourage brands to use non-synthetic mica when possible, to make clear whenever possible where the mica is sourced, or perform routine audits.
I don’t think not using makeup is really going to fix this issue and boycotting brands that do use mica from these regions is not going to be helpful for the same reason L’Oreal points out, which is it would continue the instability and make it worse. Additionally, as mica is so widespread, even if it was removed from makeup, it is still used in enough other products that while it may make a small dent, it is not going to resolve the overall issue.
This was a heavy post and I know there’s enough to be concerned about that it sucks to have to question one of the few escapes from the real world, but it’s important to be considerate of everything. I hope this post provided some food for thought, even if you may disagree with my perspective.